Introduction: Film Container CO2 Rocket.

Picture of Film Container CO2 Rocket.

With a little kitchen chemistry and some bathroom brilliance, you can turn an ordinary 35mm film container into an awesome display of thrust.

I had first invented this simple device when I was but twelve years old and had a penchant for things that go boom. While presently taking a film class, this fond memory had percolated to the surface and I decided to revisit my mischievous childhood and my penchant.

BE ADVISED: This may be the teeniest bit unsafe and could result in some kind of harm to yourself, others, or objects, but mostly likely, you'll only make a mess. In any event: by reading this you relinquish all liability on my part in perpetuity for ever and ever!

Step 1: Gather Ye Stuffbuds While Ye May.

Picture of Gather Ye Stuffbuds While Ye May.
It's all pretty basic, in fact, the only thing most people might not have lying around is the film canister. In which case a trip to your local photo hut and a kind smile should be able to net you all the canisters you require.
1) Baking Soda (NOT baking powder you fool!!!)
2) Vinegar (I hear they put this in salads sometimes)
3) Toilet Paper (available in most bathrooms around the world)
4) An EMPTY 35mm film canister (I used fujifilm, hover on the pic to see why)

Step 2: Open Yer Can.

Picture of Open Yer Can.

It's quite simple, open your film canister and then take the film out.

Step 3: Fill 'er Up.

Picture of Fill 'er Up.

For this portion of the instructable we will fill the film container to approximately 1/3 of its total volume with vinegar.

Step 4: Could You Spare a Square?

Picture of Could You Spare a Square?

Now rip off a single square of TP. Only one square mind you, waste not, want not. People in other parts of the world don't even have a square to spare. Some of the more ritzy double ply paper can be skinned to produce two single ply pieces.

Step 5: Push It... Push It Good.

Picture of Push It... Push It Good.

Now take that TP square and place it atop your film canister.

What follows is one of the more tricky and critical parts of the lesson. Push your finger in the TP ever so slightly to make a small concave surface below the opening of the canister. Be sure not to puncture the TP.

Step 6: The Icing on the Cake.

Picture of The Icing on the Cake.

In goes the baking soda (A.K.A. Sodium Bicarbonate).

I say, you ought to fill your concave pouch just a bit less than level to the surface of the canister. By doing so it is less likely that the TP will rupture in the next step.

Step 7: Replace the Cover.

Picture of Replace the Cover.

Now secure the cover back on the canister.

WARNING: At this point your rocket is primed and ready to fire, the following could occur.

1) The permeable layer (the TP) could rupture from pressure created by too much baking soda or other mechanical failure and inadvertently start the chemical reaction. This will create a great mess. Perhaps even an eye injury. If it seems that this is occurring; simply remove the cover, you'll still have a mess, but no buildup of pressure and thus not much of a hazard.

2) If you knock the bottle over, turn it upside down, or generally create a lot of wishy-washy type movement with the liquid, you may again inadvertently activate the chemical reaction, with results similar to warning #1.

Step 8: Exorcise the Excess.

Picture of Exorcise the Excess.

Take that big 'ol thumb nail of yours and start scraping off the excess TP from the cap.

Step 9: Fin.

Picture of Fin.
That's all folks, you're ready to launch.

Take your little film rocket to an open area, making sure to keep it upright during transport. (I once carried one of these all the way from home, on the bus, and to fourth period).
To launch:
1) Set the film canister on the ground in your launch area.
2) Take a few deep breaths.
3) Turn the film container onto its top.
4) RUN AWAY!!!
5) Watch from a safe distance.

I thought of putting a video on here which I made of a launch, but I had a great deal of trouble converting my camera's weird-o format and whatnot. My most recent garage experiment shot the rocket up to 10 feet (3m) at which point it banged into the ceiling with a satisfying hollow pop.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL, you might poke out your eye, or at least make it a bit sore.
How does it all work?
I'm glad you asked. Most everyone has seen the simple baking soda + vinegar reaction which produces a nice foamy mess. That reaction is the engine of this rocket. The TP acts as a triggering mechanism by separating the components of the chemical reaction until such time as you turn the bottle over. At which point the chemical reaction starts to produce carbon dioxide. Once the pressure is sufficient so that the seal on the cap is unable to contain it, the thing goes shooting up in the air with a bit of noise and some splashing.


meat grinder (author)2009-03-09

that looks ... wrong. somehow

-KungPow- (author)meat grinder2010-04-07

 u perv... get yur mind out of the gutter.

meat grinder (author)-KungPow-2012-06-14

you know you want my sexy body!

meat grinder (author)2009-03-09

just shake.

Delo97 (author)meat grinder2011-01-25

Dumb it would explode...

meat grinder (author)Delo972012-06-14

no its wont... try it

meat grinder (author)2009-03-09

sodium hydrogen carbonate. thats what it says on my bag of baking powder

its not baking powder! Its baking soda or sodium bicarbonate

waaaaaahhhhhh waaaahhhhhh that what i hear from you

redcrate (author)meat grinder2009-03-10

You want to be using baking soda. Though most baking powder contains baking soda, the reaction may not be very quick or the amount of baking soda in your baking powder may not be enough to produce the volume of gas necessary to pop the film canister. I haven't tried, let me know if baking powder works? Also what brand you're using as they are formulated differently depending on the brand.

meat grinder (author)redcrate2009-06-10

it came in a science kit it worked fine i tried putting it in a pipe for a mortar but it wasnt powerful enough

jari4499 (author)2011-05-07

he is great fantastic
you can shake too

chimei62 (author)jari44992012-05-05

or you cold use diet coke and mentos

chimei62 (author)jari44992012-05-05

or you cold use diet coke and mentos

The Random King (author)2012-04-26

I changed the method a bit. I filled the inside of the lid with b'king soda and covered it with a tissue.I filled 1/4 of the canister and closed it,tore the tissue away and set to launch.The canister went high and landed on my 3rd floor roof!!! IT WAS SOOOOOOOO POWERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

seanthesheep101 (author)2012-04-10

Sup, I'm just bout to make it now, I have a film canister and felt like making one but wasn't sure what kind of float I should make, (me being the experimental type have made my own that was ok, but not as amazing as this one) so this one should do it

Thnx bro,

quesoman (author)2009-12-14

at school now. on the computer during lunch. ill have to do this when i get home.

csoldier83 (author)2009-09-27

you should try fitting bb bullets in the top and you might get a reuseable frag grenade

Jupitane (author)2009-04-14

lol fill er' up. nice 'ible!

mattias law (author)2009-01-29

where can you get film cannisters any more especially if you dont have a film camera

redcrate (author)mattias law2009-01-29

Pretty much anyplace that develops film (drugstore, general store, photo specialty store) would be willing to give you an empty canister. They probably just trow them away after they develop the film. You could also buy a roll of film too. Don't just trow away the film for the canister though. If you're not going to use it, dissect it and figure out what it's made of and how it's put together first, then throw it away.

mattias law (author)redcrate2009-02-01

its shocking how much some people throw away. its a shame it also really good if they are throwing away the right things haha

jchar77 (author)2009-01-31

Does the film canister get absolutely trashed, or can you use it again

redcrate (author)jchar772009-02-01

It won't get trashed, you should be able to reuse it many times.

santy22 (author)2008-10-03

ok! good, but remember: "When something goes wrong, KILL IT WITH FIRE"

Thelonelysandwitch (author)2008-09-29

if you fill it with water then put in a piece of dry ice, it sounds like a gunshot.

I suppose it would. It may be a slower reaction so more pressure is able to build before rupturing the seal. Not to mention the reaction isn't happening at the seal and no tp is needed, both of which will make the seal stronger. You might want to try just the dry ice alone. This will make the slowest and possibly most pressure building (thus loud) pop. Dry ice sublimes pretty slowly in just air and will eventually build a great amount of pressure. The water will hasten the reaction. Be careful though, since the dry ice is very cold it will make the plastic brittle and therefore could cause the container to shatter and throw sharp pieces everywhere. Good suggestion though.

grimfig (author)2008-09-02

I made one of these, and set in the middle of our driveway, and flipped as soon as my brother started driving up it, and it shot up right in front of the car. It was pretty cool!!!

redcrate (author)grimfig2008-09-02


Bllasae (author)2008-08-28

I tried this, and it just sort of fizzled.

redcrate (author)Bllasae2008-08-28

The seal probably wasn't very good on the canister or too much toilet paper in one area caused a breach at that point in the seal. Thus no pressure could build up and the result would be a slow fizzle instead of a nice fast gas release once the pressure bursts the seal. Maybe try a different film canister and be sure to use as thin of a sheet toilet paper as possible.

pjax (author)2007-07-19

I did the exact same thing for a chemistry project way back in high school. I even did a little stoichiometry to determine the best ratio of vinegar to baking soda. i think i got something like 5 grams of vinegar to 3 grams of soda exactly

redcrate (author)pjax2007-07-19

The way I figure it (and I could be completely wrong), is you need 5g of acetic acid per 7 grams of sodium bicarbonate. Vinegar however is a dilute solution (mine is 5% acetic acid). So, in effect, it would require a great deal more vinegar for a complete reaction. It would be interesting to use pure acetic acid though.

DrCoolSanta (author)redcrate2008-08-15

You won't get pure acetic acid even in a chem lad, I have 17 normal glacial acetic acid, but it might have become more dilute by now.

lemonie (author)redcrate2007-07-19

5g acetic is 83 mMol. 7g sodium bicarbonate is also 83 mMol. So, as you say, for a stoichiometric reation you'd need these proportions, and at 5% v/v 21ml vinegar to your 7g 'bicarb, w/v would be 20ml. L I've used glacial acetic acid, it stinks (obviously) and would burn too...

pjax (author)redcrate2007-07-19

i don't remember really. all i remember is that i got nice round numbers :) but you're right. my computations assume glacial acetic acid. would be better to factor in the concentration then convert the mass to volume, since it's easier to measure liquids that way

Sandisk1duo (author)2008-07-03


"300 grit TP"


"you don't want people thinking you have a nasty nose candy habit"

Iron Dude (author)2008-06-03

Im planning on makeing a co2 jump pack soon. It will go along with my iron man suit im gonna build.

ilovetea (author)2008-05-06

An easier method instead of the paper is to take the cap of a water bottle, fits perfectly, and place it in with baking powder filled inside. Then just shake it.

Bllasae (author)2008-02-09

Neat. This sounds really interesting and would probably be easy to make. Nice tutorial!

redcrate (author)Bllasae2008-02-10

Thanks, it really is quite easy to make though. If you have the materials handy it'll only require about a minute to put it all together.

Bllasae (author)redcrate2008-02-11

Alright, thanks :).

four_eyes954 (author)2008-01-29

if i fit this nice and snugg into a pvc pipe and put something like a ping pong ball in the end of the pipe and activated it how far do you think it would go

redcrate (author)four_eyes9542008-02-10

Good question, you could always try. I have a feeling that it may go farther than the film container alone, but you never know. Have fun and don't hurt yourself or others.

paulapaula (author)2008-01-12

For a slower reaction and more time to get the cap of the cannister on, you can use peroxide ( the kind you get in the drugstore- hydrogen peroxide) and bakers yeast granules-- buy in bulk at a restaurant supply store or at the super market. put the peroxide in first, try different amounts, then the yeast, experiment with the amounts-- just leave some room for the co2 to form. Place the cannister cap down on the table-- and STAND BACK! The gas build up might take around 20, 30 seconds or even a minunit. Depending on the amounts of yeast and peroxide you have used, the cannister can go up around 10 feet or more. Drawback-- your room/home can end up smelling like a brewery. Maybe play outside?

redcrate (author)paulapaula2008-01-12

Your suggestion is interesting about the time. I wonder if you could also use some warm water and a sugar solution with the yeast to let them do their thing. Who says that having your room smell like a brewery is a bad thing.

locofocos (author)2007-11-27

all the way to 4th period, eh? hehehehehehehe..... i hate 4th period.... French1b.... hehe

da man (author)2007-08-03

simplest way to do this. you make a paste out of the bicarb soda(add a bit o' water to a bit of paste) and put that in the little groove on the inside of the lid. put some vinegar in the canister, put the lid on so that the bicarb paste is on the inside then flip it over. the vinegar and bicarb mix and it go real high note: this was not my idea(got it off tv)

da man (author)da man2007-08-03

soz. screwed up. *add a bit of water to a bit of bicarb

Kiteman (author)2007-07-19

Alka-seltser is a lot less messy, and the proportions have already been worked out for you:

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